Bristol Historic & Preservation Society's ‘Timeline of Enslavement’ wins national award

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This article was originally posted by June 22nd, 2023. 

The Bristol Historical & Preservation Society received an Award of Excellence for its “Timeline of Enslavement in Bristol, R.I.” from The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). The award is part of the AASLH Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation of state and local history.

The “Timeline of Enslavement in Bristol, R.I.” is 56 feet long and documents the names of those who were enslaved in Bristol between 1680 and 1808.

It is the first time in more than four years that a R.I. project has been honored. Funded by the R.I. Council for the Humanities and by a local anonymous donor, the timeline is a 56-foot-long strip of fabric that lists in chronological order the names of those who were enslaved in Bristol between 1680 and 1808. All those identified occupy their own space on the timeline, regardless of how much or little is known about them. The approximately 600 entries represent 475 enslaved individuals in total.

Bristol served as the center of the DeWolf family’s slave-trading empire between about 1800 and 1835, but as the timeline showed, enslaved people were present in the town from its founding in 1680.

The timeline also was supported by the East Bay BIPOC Research Project, Warren Middle Passage Project, Department of History and Cultural Studies at Roger Williams University and Linden Place Museum.

The timeline is frequently seen in prominent public spaces in Bristol and is available for display upon request. A video version of the timeline is available at and at For more information, call 253-7223 or go to

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